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'The Headless Boy' is a ghost story full of human emotion

Losing a loved one is one of those things that almost anyone can relate to.

That’s why the main characters in Kelli Owen’s “The Headless Boy,” are so strong. You feel their loss. Your loss may not be the kind of loss they had, but you know what loss feels like and that helps you understand the characters.

Maggie and Jake seem like the perfect couple, but after they lose their unborn child close to when he was expected to be born, it rips their life apart. Maggie falls into a deep depression and it doesn’t seem like anything will help it.

After they buy a new house, hoping a change of scenery will help Maggie, things start to go awry. Jake (pretty much the best husband ever in horror fiction) notices Maggie apparently talking to herself. She seems to be happier, more outgoing. Maggie, though, isn’t talking to herself, as she explains to Jake, she’s talking to Bobby, a ghost of a little boy in the house.

Although he doesn’t necessarily believe that it’s a ghost, Jake figures it’s a coping mechanism and Maggie created a harmless “ghost” to help her get out of her emotional despair she had been feeling since her miscarriage.

As this is a ghost novel, you can kind of expect there is nothing harmless about Bobby. Bobby isn’t a figment of Maggie’s imagination. He’s a ghost. And he does not like Jake or anyone or anything that takes Maggie’s attention away from him. Bobby is proof that little ghost kids are even worse than regular little kids.

Jake becomes more desperate as the story goes along, trying to free Maggie from the grip of this domineering ghost child that has become the most important part of her life. He is willing to do anything he can to help her and have his wife back to who she is. It all culminates in a really well-done conclusion to the story.

This isn’t the type of book that is in-your-face horror. It’s more of a quiet horror with a slow build up, which works great with a ghost story like this. This is a highly recommended read.

The Headless Boy

Kelli Owen Poltergeist Press (2021)

316 pages

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